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The commune of Mociu is the place where the largest meteorite ever found in Romania has fallen, which largest slice after disintegration has been kept at the Museum of Mineralogy of Cluj-Napoca, together with fragments of meteorites from around the world.

Photo credit: (c) Marius AVRAM / AGERPRES PHOTO

The Mociu meteorite, which is also the best known in Romania, fell from the sky more than 130 years ago, on February 3, 1882, with pieces resulting after its entry into the Earth’s atmosphere having scattered over 15 km. The largest piece, which weighs 35.7 kilograms, is now on display at the Museum of Mineralogy of Cluj-Napoca, while smaller pieces were sent to more than 100 museums worldwide.

It is estimated that the Mociu meteorite debris weighed more than 300 kilograms, of which several pieces weighing about 42 kilograms in total are on display at the museum in Cluj-Napoca.

But according to specialists, the Mociu meteorite should have weighed at least 30,000 kilograms before entering the atmosphere, but, as happens in almost all cases, air friction makes meteorites lose most of their mass and arrive on Earth at only about 8-10% of their original weight.

Geology Ph.D and meteorite specialist Razvan Andrei told Agerpres that the Mociu meteorite had exploded two or three times after it entered the atmosphere and that only a small part of it reached Earth. ‘When it entered the atmosphere, its mass was much higher, at least 30 tonnes. It lost 90-92% of its mass,’ said Razvan Andrei.

He added that the largest known meteorite fell at Hoba in Namibia. It weighs about 60 tonnes, it is metallic and it punched a crater that is 50 metres in diameter and 10 metres deep.

It is said that the Mociu meteorite generated some panic among the population, but no human casualties were reported.

Curator of the Museum of Mineralogy of Cluj-Napoca Luminita Zaharia told Agerpres that there are testimonies according to which the noise made by the Mociu meteorite was heard as far away as Budapest.

Photo credit: (c) Marius AVRAM / AGERPRES PHOTO

‘It was fantastic, from what I understand, especially as it happened somewhere in the evening and the meteorite left those burning paths in the atmosphere. There are testimonials, from what I read, that the noise was heard as far away as Budapest and the light was seen even farther. It must have been something of a doomsday for those people,’ says Zaharia. It is also said that the meteorite was shining very brightly in the night skies, like a big ball of purple fire that left behind a greyish—white trail after the fall.

It is also said that the noblemen of the area would send peasants to look for pieces of the meteorite in the fields, for money, and that the largest of them were found, especially because it was winter and the traces left in the snow were evident.

Razvan Andrei says the Mociu meteorite is a primitive piece from the protosolar nebula, which has remained relatively unchanged since the birth of the solar system and which can be up to five billion years older than the Sun.

He also tells about the meteorite market where such heavenly pieces can be more expensive than any precious metal, even up to 5,000 US dollars a gram.

‘The market for meteorites is a very big market. It depends on type and analysis. One gram can reach up to several thousand dollars, like 5.000. The market was very high until about 2000, prices were very high. But discoveries began in Sahara, the place where very many meteorites originate, and prices dropped. Meteorites are very rich in iron that in a climate like that in Romania can waste away, whereas in Sahara, with a very arid climate, they can be preserved much longer,’ explains Razvan Andrei.

Eight meteorites have so far been officially registered in Romania, with the last of them being the meteorite of Plescoi, Buzau County. It weighs 6.9 kg and it fell into the courtyard of a local.

Razvan Andrei told Agerpres that a new meteorite was found in Romania currently undergoing scientific certification. The meteorite had lain for decades in the courtyard of a villager from Gresia, Teleorman County.

Along with pieces of the Mociu and Plescoi meteorites, there are more than 220 other samples of meteorites having fallen all over the world on display at the Museum of Mineralogy of the Babes-Bolyai University. In fact, the museum houses the only collection of meteorites in Romania. AGERPRES

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